October 2, 2022

Wide left; Law hangs on in final seconds


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San Angelo, TX (westernkansasnews.com)-If Law Coach Sean Ponder was at a craps table Saturday night, his last roll might have come up snake eyes. Consider this: his team missed two extra points; lost the field position battle and had a critical red-zone turnover; yet still found a way to win a game on the road, despite having all their chips in the middle of the table. There’s no way any Vegas casino would parlay those odds.

Kingjack Washington scored twice; Dominique Carson added 133 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown and Dodge City overcame a late deficit to beat San Angelo 47-45 at Foster Coliseum.

“This is a huge road win for us,” Ponder said emphatically after the game. “Give San Angelo all the credit; they came out with a great game plan. Their team played very well.”

And with the game on the line, San Angelo (0-2) had everything lined up to kick what was supposed to be the game-winning field goal, sending Dodge City (2-1) on a long, painful, 10-hour odyssey back towards Western Kansas. Only it didn’t exactly play out that way.

Trailing 45-41 with 1:30 to play, Dodge City moved the ball down to the Bandits’ 1-yard line. After two failed attempts, Josh Floyd finally reached the end zone on third-and-goal to give the Law a 47-41 advantage. But Alex Fambrough, who came into the game a perfect 16-for-16 on extra points, pushed the PAT wide to the right, leaving the door wide open for San Angelo.

“We overcame it,” Ponder said. “That’s all that matters.”

To add insult to injury, the Bandits returned the ensuing kickoff to the 20-yard line. Add a 15-yard personal-foul penalty on Dodge City, and San Angelo had the ball at the Law 15.

Backup quarterback Justin Billiot’s first-down carry moved the ball to the 12. But Brannon Hatley, who scored three touchdowns on the night, was stonewalled for no gain on second-down, before Billiot’s third-down heave sailed out of the back of the end zone. Now it was fourth down.

Call it luck; call it divine intervention; call it whatever you’d like. But when Jared Wood stepped onto the Foster Coliseum turf to kick the potential game-winning field goal with 50 seconds left, something appeared off.

“Jared’s a good kicker,” Ponder said. “We were fully expecting him to make it.”

Wood, who spent half of last season in a Law uniform, hooked the 25-yarder to the left, and the Law bench breathed a collective sigh of relief. Three Floyd kneel downs and the game was over.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Ponder said of Wood’s kick. “We’ll take a win any way we can get it.”

After a first half that saw only 28 combined points scored: Floyd’s three-yard scamper followed up by his six-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Young; Hatley and Beau Gonzales accounted for the two Bandits’ touchdowns a two-yard run and a three-yard burst respectively; the flood gates opened in the third quarter.

On the second play of the second half, San Angelo starting quarterback Brennan Crawford hit Jason Stephenson in stride for a 25-yard touchdown-giving the Bandits their first lead 21-14.

“We just had to make plays in the second half,” Law linebacker Jacorey Quarterman said. “Put the game on the line, and we’ll make the plays.”

It didn’t take Dodge City long to respond. After Wood’s kickoff hit the speakers atop the coliseum, the Law took over at midfield. On the very next play, Carson wiggled free-outracing the Bandits secondary for a 25-yard touchdown to the tie the game at 21.

“I had a lot of energy,” Carson said afterwards. “There were a couple of plays I missed on, but I feel pretty good.”

The scoring onslaught continued when San Angelo got the ball back, driving 21 yards in four plays, capped off with Hatley’s second rushing touchdown of the night: a three-yard sprint off right guard. Wood’s extra point gave the Bandits a 28-21 edge.

Carson, who finished last season third in the Champions Indoor Football League in all-purpose yardage, returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to the San Angelo 10-yard line. After back-to-back procedure penalties pushed Dodge City back to the 20, Floyd hit Kingjack Washington for a 17-yard gain down to the Bandits 3-yard line. One play later, Washington raced in from three yards out, knotting the game at 28.

“Kingjack had a big game for us,” Ponder said. “It was his best game in this jersey.”

The ironic thing was Washington wasn’t even sure how much he would play in the game.

“However they use me I’m fine with,” Washington said before the game. “It all depends on the type of defense that we see.”

Not only did he play, but his powerful runs in the second half proved to be the difference.

“It gives us a change of pace,” Carson said. “It allows me to catch my breath, and it puts another great running back in there.”

The Bandits went on to retake the lead just a few minutes later when Crawford leaped over from a yard out, putting the finishing touches on a seven-play, 28-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the third-quarter clock.

Floyd’s 25-yard touchdown strike to Young on Dodge City’s next possession was supposed to tie the score. But Fambrough missed the extra point, and the Law trailed 35-34 with 4:21 to play in the period. That deficit grew to four when Wood connected on a 23-yard field goal to end the frame.

“We just kept fighting back,” Quarterman said of his team’s effort in the second half. “We never felt we were out of the game.”

Washington’s second touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put the Law back in front 41-38. But a lapse in Dodge City’s special teams’ coverage allowed Shiloh Hickman to scoop up Fambrough’s ensuing squib kick and return it 26 yards to the Law 13. Two plays later, Hatley capped off the hat trick with a five-yard rushing touchdown. Wood’s point-after put the Bandits ahead 45-41.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Ponder said regarding the third-quarter scoring. “Our defense played really well in the first half but not so much in the second.”

Dodge City had a chance to retake the lead the next time they touched the ball. But their seven-play drive ended when Floyd was picked off by Reuben Tiller in the end zone.

“Floyd played well,” Ponder said. “But he has to be quicker with some of his throws. Obviously the red zone interception was big, but for the most part he played well.”

The play of the game might very well have been right before the end of the first half. Following Floyd’s errant fourth-down pass that was nearly intercepted in the end zone by Darrelle Raven-Charlo, the Bandits drove the ball 33 yards from their own 7-yard line to the Dodge City 10. But Louvan Green knifed into the backfield and put pressure on Crawford, forcing him to throw the ball away with two seconds remaining. Then Wood missed a chip shot 25-yard field goal, leaving the score tied at the break.

Crawford, who was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter when Law linebacker Rico Brooks shoved him over the end zone wall, finished 13-of-22 for 112 yards and a touchdown. He also ran it eight times for 48 yards and a score. Hatley carried the rock 16 times for 57 yards and three touchdowns. Stephenson grabbed seven balls for 52 yards and a reached the end zone once.

Floyd was sharp for the most part, completing 13-of-19 passes for 126 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. He also accounted for two rushing touchdowns. Young, who missed last week’s game because of injury, caught four balls for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Venson had three catches for 19 yards, and Washington hauled in two catches for 26.

San Angelo outgained Dodge City 222 to 218.

Extra points: It’s the third straight game the Law has surrendered 200 yards or more of total offense…San Angelo converted its first five third downs (They were just 2-of-6 in the second half)

Next up: Vs. Texas Revolution-Saturday, March 28-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 98.1 FM; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KSKZ and tuneinradio app: KSKZ